AUBURN — The way the second quarter started didn’t bode well for the St. Dom’s girls’ basketball team Tuesday. The way it ended was more like it.

The Saints watched North Yarmouth Academy keep it close early in the first half and were within a point of the Saints in the opening minutes of the second quarter.

That was too close for comfort for St. Dom’s. The Saint finished the half strong and broke things open in the third for a decisive 54-32 win over NYA in a Western C prelim.

“We’re really excited to go back to the (Augusta) Civic Center,” said junior guard Mary Caron. “Last year was a good experience. I just want to go further this year.”

The seventh-seeded Saints play second-ranked Waynflete next Tuesday. It will be the fourth straight year the Saints have reached the quarterfinals. They advanced to the semifinals in 2008 but have lost in the first round the last two seasons.

“The kids really wanted to get back,” said St. Dom’s coach Paul Rheaume. “They’re actually looking forward to playing Waynflete. This will be the third year in a row that we’ll play Waynflete, and they want to get them this time.”

The Saints (13-6) obstacle in the prelim was the 10th-seeded Panthers (10-9). NYA had edged out a number of quality MVC clubs to earn the playoff berth.  NYA’s 10 wins came from teams that only combined to go 42-84 and only one of them had a winning record.

“Most of the girls have never been in a playoff game,” said NYA coach Liz Smith. “It was really difficult because they had like three inches on us with every player underneath. That was a huge disadvantage that I think we weren’t anticipating.”

Still, NYA managed stayed close through the first quarter. A jumper from Chloe Leishman made it 12-11, and the Panthers had a little momentum.

That changed quickly enough. Mary Caron hit a pair of baskets and sparked an 8-2 run that finished the half. Caron had 12 or her team’s 20 points in the first half, including eight in the second quarter.

“I was just really pumped to be back in the playoffs and to get going,” said Caron. “The shots just fell for me.”

NYA tried to keep pace in the third. A pair of 3-pointers by Blair Haggett got the Panthers as close as 24-19, but the Saints pulled away with a 10-1 run. Allaina Murphy, who had 22 of her game-high 24 points in the second half, scored 12 in the third as the Saints broke the game open.

“It felt like we really started clicking and it just kept going from there,” said Caron.

The Saints zone defense proved too much for the Panthers. NYA moved the ball effectively at times and set up some quality shots, but the shots didn’t fall.

“We just couldn’t convert,” said Smith. “I think that’s nerves. Coming on the road and being in the playoffs, you can’t anticipate how that’s going to effect you.”

NYA shot just 2-for-10 in the second and 4-for-18 in the third. The Panthers also turned the ball over nearly 20 times. Eliza Gendron led NYA with 10 while Haggett finished with nine.

“They’re used to playing people that are smaller out front,” said Rheaume of NYA. “We have tall people that take those shots away. We’ve done that to many teams. They don’t get a good look. We end up taking a lot of shots away that way.”

[email protected]

Click here to view more action photos of St Doms and NYA girls basketball.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.